Friday, December 10, 2010

Debate Starts on Crown Heights Rabbis’ Gag Order 

A debate on free speech is rippling through the Lubavitcher Hasidic community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Last week, the rabbinical court known as the Beth Din of Crown Heights ordered members of the Lubavitcher community not to speak to the police or the news media on a range of issues related to crime.

The one-page edict (see below) bars members of the community of 20,000 from giving the news media information about another community member that could lead to “an investigation or intensified prosecution by any law enforcement agency.”

It also requires the permission of a powerful social service agency, the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, for any of the following: filing complaints about the police; complaining about the police to the news media; publishing articles critical of the police; or engaging in “police relations.”

Now, a law school graduate and Lubavitcher who lives in the neighborhood has sent a letter to the Beth Din criticizing the policy.

“Besides the fact that this proclamation violates democratic principles and values as well as victims’ right laws and is therefore against Jewish law because Jewish law requires we follow the law of our country, it is demeaning to victims of police mistreatment,” wrote Eliyahu Federman, a 2010 graduate of CUNY School of Law, where he was executive articles editor of the law review.

Crown Heights Rabbinical Gag Order

Response to Gag Order


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